Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Living With Food Allergies

August 31st 2016

This post is in response / inspired by my good friend Emily (check out her blog here: love-emily) who has written two blog posts about being allergic to dairy. 

I found out I'm allergic to gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, millet, sesame, lychee, kiwi, and agave. 
The first thing I thought was "how the hell am I going to eat anything?!" Luckily several supermarkets do a "free from" range of foods that are perfect for me! However, as someone who doesn't like making a fuss, it's been difficult to find food I can eat when I go out and about. I can always have jacket potato and baked beans, that's a safe option for me, and I can also have steak and chips, providing the chips are skin on as some chips are made with wheat flour. I love eating out because I'm such a foodie! I love trying new foods and going to new restaurants but I'm restricted now which has made me a bit sad.  

Living down south is really difficult for someone with these allergies because few places seem to realise that I'm gluten/dairy/wheat etc free because of an allergy. They seem to think I'm just following the latest diet trend. Well here's a newsflash: people can cut foods out of their diet without it being a fad! And yes, I will be that annoying person in coffee shops that has to have a long order. #sorrynotsorry. 

When I was on holiday in the Midlands, every other cafe/restaurant offered gluten free or dairy free food and on a few occasions they offered both. Signs were put up saying to speak to them if you have an allergy and they would be happy to cater for you. It was so lovely to be looked after like that after the looks and eye rolling I often receive here in the south. I do love the Midlands and I may have to venture back there...

I'm on a new diet for 3 months where I've cut out everything that had dairy, gluten, wheat, and yeast in to give my body a break. After the three months I can start introducing the foods again, but slowly. It would be a little bit of milk in my tea and then wait a few days to see how I am, for example. This diet is difficult for me because I can't eat what I used to love. Afternoon tea is out of the question because I can't have bread due to the gluten, wheat, and yeast (even gluten & wheat free bread often has yeast in it). It's also difficult as I discovered many things actually have yeast in it. I did my research after I found out I was allergic and the amount of things I can't eat is ridiculous! 

Foods containing yeast found on Yeast Allergen List
Foods containing gluten can be found here:
Foods containing wheat can be found here:

I must admit I haven't been avoiding peanuts, "aged meats" or mushrooms because I love them too much, but luckily I haven't been ill from it. With the "aged meats", it's interesting it's on the list of yeast allergens because I've found gluten, wheat, and dairy free sausages and yeast isn't listed as an ingredient. But the rest of the foods I've had to avoid has been horrendous. When I go food shopping I have to read every single packet for the ingredients used to make sure they have got anything I can't have in them. It's been eyeopening how much is put into food, and how much of it is foods I can't eat. 

What I'm going to do is go through a selection of the Free From foods that I eat and where you can get them from etc. just as a guide incase there's anyone else who suffers as I do! There's lots I can eat that's not on this list such as potatoes, baked beans (Heinz), salad, vegetables, beef, chicken, etc. Uncle Ben's basmati rice is really good, but the other rices in his range often have ingredients I can't have. Condiments wise, Chippa do a range of condiments such as sweet chilli sauce, ketchup and mayo which are vegan, and gluten/wheat free. 

These brownies from Sainsbury's are absolutely delicious! There's four in this box but they're divided up into two brownies in one plastic package. They're quite rich so I can only eat one of the two (usually anyway) but they are lovely. 

This is the chocolate I use for my chocolate chip & peanut butter cookies recipe. Eating it on it's own isn't for me, it tastes like the cheap chocolate you get in advent calendars at Christmas. But if you like that stuff then you'll love this chocolate. It's good in the cookies because it melts and it's really yummy.

This bar is really nice! It's a bit expensive so I get it as a treat for myself, but it's definitely worth it. It's literally just peanut butter, peanuts and dark chocolate with a few other bits and it's really yummy. I don't normally like dark chocolate but this doesn't have the bitter rich taste dark chocolate usually has.

Out of all the free from pasta I have to admit that Tesco have won me over. However I've got two big packets of this pasta from Morrison's I need to get through. I like fusilli pasta because it's a funny name to say! This is made out of a rice and it's difficult to tell the difference between this gluten free, wheat free pasta to normal pasta.

My substitute for baking. Well, one of many! This is sunflower spread from Marks and Spencer's that is made without dairy.
Other substitutes for baking I use is "baking fat" that can be found at most supermarkets. It's made from animal fat, so it's not suitable for vegans, but it is for people with a dairy allergy. There's also blocks of lard you can buy, and there's also vegetable oil blocks that can be used as well. I've tried and tested them all and they're all good substitutes but it depends on what you're baking. Tesco offer a "made without dairy" soya spread that I've used in baking as well. Of course, you can use margarine!

I love cereal. Cereal is amazing and I would happily eat it all day every day. I miss cereal the most, like cookie crisp, honey cheerios, special K, oh my god special K is so good! But my Mum found me this cereal in Tesco and it's really nice! It just tastes like normal cornflakes - I can't tell the difference.

I found these in a health food shop in town, but you can buy them in many Free From sections of supermarkets. They are nice, but they get stuck in your teeth a bit! I have these for part of my breakfast.

This stuff is heaven on Earth and I never thought I'd say that about granola! I found it in Waitrose but you can get it in most supermarkets (I've seen it in Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrison's). It's granola with almonds, hazelnuts and raisins and it is really nice. I have half a bowl of this with half a bowl of cornflakes and that can keep me going for about 3 hours. But, what do I use for milk I hear you cry!

I found a milk substitute I like! This has taken me about 2 months to find because I have an "acquired taste pallet" (posh way of me saying I don't like a lot of food which is ironic because I love trying new food). I tried almond milk, hazelnut milk, soya milk (sweetened and unsweetened) and coconut milk but it was all revolting. But this stuff is like drinking vanilla milkshake! I don't use it in my tea, but I have half a cup of it over my cereal as that's enough for me or else it's too sweet. It's perfect for making vanilla lattes at home though! 

Most baking powder is (supposedly) gluten free anyway, but some brands use wheat-starch to stop it going clumpy. This brand is perfect for gluten & wheat free baking ingredients.

Xanthan gum is used in gluten free baking to make the product more doughy so it sticks together. If you've used gluten free flour before you'll know it's very fine like icing sugar and so getting it to stick together is difficult. Crumbly cake is a significant indicator of a gluten free cake!

I used to get these dairy milk microwaveable puddings that were delicious, but I can't eat them at the moment so I'm sure you'll know how excited I was to see these. However, they did have a "reduced to clear" label on them so I'm worried I won't be able to get these again!

Jam tarts are one of God's gifts. I adore them! These are harder than normal jam tarts (I actually cut my gum on one of them before!) but they are tasty. Sainsbury's do their own in their "free from" section which are really good.

This is the brand of flour I use, it's the same as the baking powder and xanthan gum. You can also get rice flour, self raising flour, corn flour etc. Like I said before, it's very fine like icing sugar so you need xanthan gum to help it stick.

I discovered this in Tesco and I was thrilled to see I could eat them! Just zap them in the microwave for about 40 seconds (depending on your microwave) to heat them up. I had mine with chicken, bacon, sweetcorn, and mixed leaves salad.

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies and I am relieved to have found "Zoe Friendly" ones! They're really tasty and are good with a vanilla latte!

These brownies are much better than the Sainsbury's ones because they're more gooey. I love gooey brownies!

These are delicious and it's hard not to eat the whole packet! The dipping sauce is alright but I'm not too keen on sweet and sour sauce!

These are really nice but I haven't seen them anywhere else except Sainsbury's.

There's a fair variety of different sausages that are gluten/wheat/dairy free but I prefer these ones. They're quick to cook and taste like Richmond sausages.

I adore chicken nuggets and these are perfect. With only 20 in a packet it's difficult not to eat them all in one go!

Potato waffles are amazing and I'm really glad they're gluten free!

Fish cakes are a bit hit and miss for me, but these are really nice!

These are another brand of sausages that I found recently. I haven't tried them yet, but no doubt they'll be delicious as they're 97% pork!

Pulled pork is amazing but so often it's made with malt vinegar which I can't have. This stuff cooks in the microwave for 10 minutes and it really nice with jacket potato!

It may sound daunting at first but luckily we're in a time where people's allergies are recognised and people are making food that's suitable for them. I hope this post serves as some reassurance for those who have similar/the same allergies as me. There are lots of options out there, don't worry!

If you need any advice or have any questions, please drop me a comment below and I'll be happy to help out!

UPDATE: I spoke to my nutritionalist who said my allergies are temporary and the result of stress. My food wasn't being digested properly so allergies were formed as a result of undigested food sitting in my stomach (lovely). This explains how I can spend my life eating all the gluten, wheat, yeast & milk I want with no effect, but suddenly I am allergic. The stress was brought on during my last few months of third year of university. 

I've been given the advice to drink liquids 15 minutes before I eat and then an hour afterwards. This will ensure my stomach acid isn't diluted and can help digest my food much better. If you're struggling to digest food or suffering with allergies to food that have been brought on suddenly, then give this a try.

I got my allergies tested by York Laboratories (UK) who offer a fantastic service to help understand and diagnose food and drink allergies. It is expensive, but it's quicker, easier and more accurate than going through your GP.


  1. Yayyyy you did it, it's an amazing post!! You're so inspiring to go through all of these allergies but you've found so many great foods I'm going to have to try some more! ❤️

  2. You should come to Bristol. You'll find a gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, you name it place on every corner!